Franz Nicolay - "The Humorless Ladies" - with William Nickell at The Hideout

Friday, September 16, 2016 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Franz Nicolay discusses The Humorless Ladies of Border Control. He will be joined in conversation by William Nickell.
Co-sponsored by CEERES
At The Hideout
About the book: In 2009, musician Franz Nicolay left his job in the Hold Steady, aka “the world’s greatest bar band.” Over the next five years, he crossed the world with a guitar in one hand, a banjo in the other, and an accordion on his back, playing the anarcho-leftist squats and DIY spaces of the punk rock diaspora. He meets Polish artists nostalgic for their revolutionary days, Mongolian neo-Nazis in full SS regalia, and a gay expat in Ulaanbataar who needs an armed escort between his home and his job. The Russian punk scene is thrust onto the international stage with the furor surrounding the arrest of the group Pussy Riot, and Ukrainians find themselves in the midst of a revolution and then a full-blown war.

While engaging with the works of literary predecessors from Rebecca West to Chekhov and the nineteenth-century French aristocrat the Marquis de Custine, Nicolay explores the past and future of punk rock culture in the post-Communist world in the kind of book a punk rock Paul Theroux might have written, with a humor reminiscent of Gary Shteyngart. An audacious debut from a vivid new voice, The Humorless Ladies of Border Control is an unforgettable,
funny, and sharply drawn depiction of surprisingly robust hidden spaces tucked within faraway lands.
About the author: Franz Nicolay is a New York musician who has played with myriad acts including the Hold Steady, Against Me!, and the Dresden Dolls and was a founding member of the composer/performer collective Anti-Social music. Dying Scene recently named him #1 of "Punk's 10 Best Accordion Players." He teaches at Bard College. The Humorless Ladies of Border Control: Touring the Punk Underground from Belgrade to Ulaanbaatar (The New Press) is his first book.
About the interlocutor: William Nickell is Associate Professor of Russian literature in the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on the aesthetic artifacts of large-scale social, economic and technical change. He is author of The Death of Tolstoy: Russia on the Eve, Astapovo Station, 1910, and of two works in progress: The Soviet Cure (a cultural history of Soviet sanatoria and rest therapies in the 1930s), and a companion volume to War and Peace.
About the co-sponsor: The University of Chicago has been providing instruction in disciplines of the CEERES region continuously since 1903, when courses in Russian language and area studies were begun. The center now known as CEERES has been in existence since 1965, and it continues to coordinate instruction and facilitate research about Russia/Eurasia and Eastern/Central Europe, including the Baltic States, Balkans, Caucasus, and Central Asia. In addition to its robust language offerings, CEERES supports curricula which are particularly strong at present in Russian/Soviet history; Slavic, Balkan, and Baltic linguistics; nationalities studies of the former USSR; Slavic literatures (Russian, Polish, Czech); Russian and East European cultural anthropology; comparative literature; archaeology of the Caucasus; Russian and East European film and art history, and business administration. CEERES faculty have expertise also in political science, international relations, economics, sociology, and Central and East European, Byzantine, and Ottoman history.
Event Location: 
The Hideout
1354 West Wabansia Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642